Although the expo’s executive director called Ryan Mauro a “national expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism,” Mauro perpetuates dangerous myths and propaganda about American Muslims.
VERONA, New York — Despite widespread criticism of his views, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming private police conference.
Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at Clarion Project, a Zionist, anti-Muslim think tank formerly known as the Clarion Fund, will appear at the New York Tactical Officers Association’s upcoming Tactical Conference, a police exposition attended primarily by SWAT team members. Attendance is strictly limited, and press and the general public are not welcome.
Hatewatch, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, criticized Mauro last year for spreading anti-Muslim propaganda:
“He has promoted the false narrative of ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims in Europe. Mauro also told Fox News host Megyn Kelly that there are growing Muslim enclaves in the U.S. where gangs of Islamic extremists are ‘patrolling’ neighborhoods and enforcing the tenants (sic) of Shariah law.”
Larry Beresnoy, executive director of the NYTOA, defended Mauro in a recent interview with Sarah Lazare, a staff writer for Alternet:
“Ryan Mauro is a national expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism … His entire job is researching the issue. I’ve looked at Ryan’s stuff, looked at Clarion’s stuff. I’ve seen their videos ‘Third Jihad’ and ‘Obsession.’ There are many experts who believe that the information is accurate. He has good information to share.”
The film puts forth the idea that the West is under attack by Islam. In reality, Muslims have widely condemned terrorism, and, even in the Middle East, most view the United States as a potential ally in the fight against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL).
“There are reasons police violence fill our headlines and politicians ride waves of hate,” said Ali Issa, national field organizer for the War Resisters’ League, in an interview with Lazare. “One of those reasons is SWAT trainings and expos like NYTOA, where Islamophobia and major arms dealers take center stage.”
A page on the league’s website notes that the event has far-reaching implications for America’s already troubled police culture:
“This year NYTOAC will feature presentations by agencies from Los Angeles, CA; Ft. Collins, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; St. Louis, MO; and Columbus, OH. This conference is national — and it’s (sic) effects will be too.”
A change.org petition created by the organization demanding the cancellation of the expo had received more than 1,700 signatures by Friday afternoon.
A September 2015 analysis by Truthout of another tactical expo, the Department of Homeland Security-funded “Urban Shield” conference, held annually in Oakland, California, concluded that these events are “a convenient ‘one-stop shop’ for anything a police department might need to turn regular beat cops into SWAT-like robo-cops.”
War Resisters League members Tara Tabassi and Ana Conner warned that these expos increasingly seek to tie the police into the global war on terror, not just through the equipment and tactics that have repeatedly provoked violence, but also through teaching cops to view their work as domestic warfare.
“[M]ilitarized mentalities — mentalities that rely heavily on cultures of fear, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and warfare logic — successfully permeate through agencies, such as police departments, and dramatically amplify the force of police violence through our communities,” they wrote.